The cost of controlling temperatures is one of the largest expenses in running data centres. IT equipment units give off heat as they run, but excess heat can damage the hardware. Aisle containment offers a practical solution allowing for greater efficiency at reduced running costs.
Aisle containment works through separating hot and cold air in a data centre. Either the hot or cold aisle can be contained, and the best choice will depend on the circumstances of each data centre. Both hot-aisle and cold-aisle containment will provide significant energy savings compared to traditional uncontained structures.
Hot-aisle containment can provide up to 40% cooling system energy savings over cold-aisle containment due to increased economiser hours. This makes hot-aisle containment a preferred solution in new installations. However for existing installations, hot-aisle containment may be prohibitively expensive or impossible to implement, making cold-aisle containment the best feasible option.
Benefits of aisle containment in data centres
Here are the greatest benefits of aisle containment in data centres:
Cooling systems can be set to a higher supply temperature
The temperature of uncontained cooling systems needs to be set much lower (approximately 13°C) than that required by IT equipment to prevent hot spots. Containment allows for increased cold air supply temperatures and higher return temperatures to the cooling unit. This leads to greater cooling capacity and overall higher efficiency.
Elimination of hot spots
Aisle containment allows the cooling unit supply air to reach the front of the IT equipment without mixing with hot air. This means the temperature of the supply air at the cooling unit is the same as the IT inlet air temperature. Because of this, the supply air temperature can be safely increased without the risk of hot spots.
Economiser hours are increased
When the outdoor temperature is lower than the indoor temperature, the cooling system’s compressors don’t need to reject heat from the outside. By increasing the set point temperature on cooling systems, the cooling system is able to increase the number of hours during which it can remain inactive and save energy.
Humidification / dehumidification costs are reduced
Eliminating mixing between hot and cold air allows the cooling system’s supply air temperatures to be increased, enabling the cooling system to run above the dewpoint temperature. This means that no humidity is removed, so no humidity needs to be replaced, saving energy and water.
Better overall physical infrastructure utilisation
Increased efficiencies in infrastructure utilisation enables right-sizing, which in turn, allows equipment to run at higher efficiencies. Larger over-sized equipment leads to greater fixed losses than right-sized equipment. Nevertheless, oversizing can be required for traditional cooling as extra fan power is needed to overcome underfloor obstructions and to pressurise the raised access floor.
Hot-aisle containment vs. cold-aisle containment
Both hot-aisle and cold-aisle containment offer improved power density and efficiency compared to traditional uncontained configurations. A hot-aisle containment system is more efficient than a cold-aisle containment system because it permits higher work environment temperatures and increased chilled water temperatures leading to increased economiser hours and savings on electrical costs.
Nevertheless, in some situations, cold-aisle containment may be preferred as it is easier and less costly to deploy in an existing raised floor, room-oriented perimeter cooling layout.
Want to know more about aisle containment solutions for data centres? Get in touch with our team of experts at Fieldmans Access Floors. Call us on 020 8462 7100 with any questions or book an appointment for a more in-depth discussion.